A/N: This is part of a series of 500 vague writing prompts labeled "The Dragon". This was (as you can probably guess) "Terror In The Night". The titled all but begged to be written from Allen Walker's point of view, focusing on the inner war with the Noah inside him.
Lurking at the door
You run the table, yes
But cannot win the war
He mocks me with my red-rimmed eyes and sleepless pallor. He smiles indulgently when my hands seem to move in slow motion, struggling in my fatigue to do something so simple as close the buttons of my vest. Those are his hands rubbing reassuring circles on my back, when my body rejects yet another meal. He gives me placating kisses on a hollowed cheek as my vision begins to fade at the edges.
The sun seems to keep him at bay. He can only taunt me within the netherworld of mirrors and hissed whispers in my ear – his hands are little more than phantom sensations around my throat that act as a polite reminder.
I will take control. You are nothing but a vessel for me.
The moon fuels him. The night that once comforted me with cool breezes and peace as a child has become a living nightmare, the monochrome phantasmagoria that tortures my dreams. Here lies his luxurious domain, with every wilted flower and dilapidated structure nothing more than just another part of his twisted creation. As the chains around my arms indicated, even within my own dreams, my will held no power here.
"You're not going to win," the Musician said pleasantly, his face never escaping the perpetual shadow that lingered upon it, obscuring any identifying features. Only the light reflecting off milk-white teeth and curiously blank eyes indicated that, indeed, there was a humanoid face there. For all his tone indicated, we might have been talking about the weather rather than a dubiously metaphorical imprisonment. His eyes never seemed to look at the metallic links digging into my skin nor at the water slowly rising past my ankles.
Was this what madness felt like?
I'd often thought about it during my time with Mana, the way the mind vacillates between the clarity of reason and the murky depths of pure insanity. Clown that he was, his knack for deception and ability to alter his appearance for the public wasn't limited to stark-white face paint. My Mana was a brilliant, awe-inspiring liar. I'd learned early when to recognize the transition - the way the smile failed to reach his eyes, and the way his mouth would slacken ever so slightly as he smiled, giving his face the appearance of having a broken hinge somewhere.
Yet as I smiled at the Musician, resisting the primal urge to desperately struggle against the chains... was I any less insane? Were these chains really here at all? Was my skin as raw as it felt? Was the water licking at my calves a figment of my imagination, the product of one too many nightmare-fueled nights? Was the Musician here at all?
"You're not really here, are you?" I asked, unable to suppress the panicked giggle that escaped.
The Musician's response was bizarre in that it was completely human: he actually tilted his head with curiosity, as if I'd started reciting Latin.
"This is all in my head… I'm just imagining all of this, and can wake up any time I want. I can't be haunted by something that isn't real…. right?"
That mysterious grin widened mirthlessly, morphing into a chilling Glasgow smile. He only put a finger to where his mouth might have been, a roguish gesture binding us to secrecy.
"You're the vessel, Allen. In the end, it won't matter if you thought I'm here or not – you won't exist any longer. The devil's in the details. Simply because you don't want to believe in my existence doesn't change the fact that I share every mirror and dream with you. You'll never get rid of me, no matter what you try. The quicker you lose your mind, Allen, the easier it is for me to break free."
What else was there for it? A peal of laughter that only utter hopelessness could inspire bubbled out of me. I was already feeling my own mind unravel in his skilled hands - I could feel the loose threads tickle the edges of my consciousness. I understood now why Mana's smiles were slackened and came easily, why a nail in his palm could elicit an amused snicker instead of a scream.
Though, with most laughter, it was hard to tell if a few of them weren't simply sobs hastily suppressed. \
I suppose, as he said, the devil was in the details.